Man at pump fueling tan car at c-store.
Don’t fall captive to shrink – take the time to protect your fuel inventory today.

Many convenience retailers understand the importance of reconciling their physical inventory in the store but may not fully realize the tools available to help with tracking their wetstock, otherwise known as fuel inventory. It’s up to both c-store owners and carriers to work together to accurately track fuel levels, both at the store and on the truck, to manage inventory.

Accurate fuel inventory management is just as critical as tracking physical inventory in your store. Why? Fuel sales have notoriously thin margins. Any inaccuracy in your inventory impacts not only your bottom line but your store’s reputation with consumers. Leaving convenience retailers with the short end of the stick with paying the price for any mistake. So, how do you put an end to the losses? As a c-store owner, it’s important to identify the most likely areas of impact to stop and address inaccuracies as soon as they happen.

The first step is to identify potential delivery shortages/overages, losses, leaks, or manual errors.

Ensuring Accurate Fuel Delivery

At the convenience retail level, fuel prices are an initial attractor for customers. Once at your site, it’s imperative that your location can meet the consumer’s need. Your reputation depends on it. Running out of fuel isn’t merely a lost sale or a few lost customers. It instills a lack of trust, which has the potential to drive away sales on a long-term basis. You don’t want your hard-earned customers to begin visiting your competitors down the street, instead.

Conversely, having too much fuel on hand ties up costs unnecessarily. Here’s where working hand-in-hand as convenience store owner and jobber come into play. Fleet technology with the ability to calculate exactly how much fuel is on the truck, and how much fuel needs to drop, is imperative. This information is then passed to the site-level back-office software, allowing staff to reconcile amounts easily.

Identifying Fuel Shrink

Theft, better known as shrinkage, is defined as a discrepancy in the amount of a verifiable product you have onsite versus the amount your software reports you should have onsite. These discrepancies take place in many forms. Shrink could occur as vendor/carrier fraud, employee theft, customer theft, or paperwork errors.

The difference between carrier shrink and inaccurate fuel delivery comes down to intent. This is where the importance of leveraging technology protects both convenience retailers from theft and jobbers from accusation. With the proper technology in place, convenience retailers would be alerted to any inaccuracy after a tank filling. It would alert the site if a carrier shorted the store.

What if that’s not the case, but you’re still missing fuel? Syphoning fuel can occur as easily as an inaccurate fuel drop. Solving this is simple. Start by monitoring your automatic tank gauge (ATG). You’ll be alerted to inaccuracies between your tank amounts and fuel sales.

Without the proper software in place, imagine the many gallons of fuel you’d need to sell to replace just one missing gallon. This, compacted over countless gallons, leaves the convenience retailer financially responsible for covering the lost costs.

Following Environmental Standards

Your inventory may be short due to issues much less malicious than shrink, such as a problem with your storage tanks. According to the EPA, “Inspections conducted nationwide indicate that most people who think they are doing [fuel] inventory control are not doing it in a way that is likely to find leaks and meet the law’s requirements for leak detection.”

Make sure you’re following the proper environmental codes for your state to catch potential leaks in your storage tanks and containers.

With such slim margins to manage, digital technology is needed to help track the amounts carriers drop in your tanks, with the quantities sold at the forecourt. Because fuel inventory tools can come in all metaphorical shapes in sizes, you need tools that can integrate easily with one another from supply chain logistics for carriers, to back-office software for retailers. This allows both c-store owners and jobbers to gauge amounts dropped at each site accurately.

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Control every aspect of your operation, whether it be your convenience store or your fleet. Reduce admin time for both convenience store owners and jobbers by leveraging technology built to help you reconcile fuel sales with inventory levels. Because you can’t sell what you don’t actually have. And when you leverage the right technology, you have a single solution for reconciling fuel inventory, allowing you to sell your inventory at competitive prices.

Did You Know: Your Source for PDI News provided by PDI, the leader in enterprise management software for the convenience retail and petroleum wholesale markets.